From 1968 until 1994, the Palestinians residing in the Land of Israel were largely governed by one man, Yasser Arafat. Arafat rose to power as the head of a political party, Fatah, which was founded on the premise that the Palestinians should engage in self-liberation, by force if necessary. During that time, Arafat and Fatah encouraged hundreds of terrorist attacks, many of them through affiliate groups that were officially separate from Fatah, though in name only.
After Arafat’s death in 2004, Fatah lost its revered leader and has struggled to recover. Last January, the world-including many Palestinians-was shocked when the opposing Hamas party won the majority of seats in the Palestinian elections. Political leaders and Israelis were unsettled by the victory of the more militant group, as it signifies a disturbing shift away from peace in the region. Though much remains to be seen about how Hamas will approach its new role, its historic opposition to negotiations and treaties makes it doubtful that this will be a time of renewed peace for Israel.
A Covenant of Hatred
A brief look at the 36 articles of its Covenant, which was published on August 18, 1988, leaves no doubt as to the goals of Hamas. The Covenant’s preamble lays out its agenda toward Israel in stark terms: “…Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
Therefore, according to Article 13, “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.”
Hamas has produced 113 suicide bombers* since 1993. In the time since the intensification of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities that began in September 2000, 227 Israeli civilians have been killed and 1,393 wounded in suicide bombings carried out by Hamas.
Hamas’ recent electoral victory has completely changed the political landscape in Israel. People of good will may wrestle with the question of what is fair and just for both Jews and Palestinians in this terribly complex and painful situation. But for members of Hamas, even one square inch of Jewish homeland in the Mideast is an unacceptable insult.
But there is more. According to Hamas, the Jewish people crave world domination. As Article 32 of the Hamas Covenant explains, “The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…” However, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was forged in 1905 by a Russian anti-Semite. Though this document was proved to be a total hoax and forgery decades ago, it continues to shape the opinions of people worldwide, including the policies of Hamas.
What can Israel do in the face of such implacable hatred? There is no easy answer. But one thing it must do while there is time is to turn to faith in Messiah, in whom all promises-to Jew and Arab alike-are fulfilled.
Differences Between Fatah (“Conquest”) and Hamas (“Zeal”)
Fatah was established some time between 1952 and 1968 and is secular and nationalist in ideology. It is supported by moderate Gulf States, primarily Saudi Arabia, and engages in political and military activities. A quote from Articles 7 and 19 of the Fatah Constitution is telling of their attitude:
“…the Palestinian Arab People’s armed revolution is a decisive factor in…uprooting the Zionist** existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.”
Hamas, founded in 1988, holds a militantly Islamist ideology. It is supported by militant Islamist states such as Iran and functions primarily deal with military activity and distributing welfare, but it has more recently developed a presence politically as well. Article 13 of the Hamas charter conveys their philosophy on the Middle East peace process:
“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
* Statistics come from sources available in May 2006 when this article was written.
** “Zionist” is a typical Arab euphemism for Israel.